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Seizures Then and Now
If a person who lived 200 years ago was treated for a seizure today, they would be surprised by the treatment’s novelty. That’s because doctors in the 1800s were influenced more by very old medical beliefs than by science.
Rather than thinking the brain caused seizures, people in the 180’ still thought they were the result of strange forces. This beliefs was founded on an ideology that equated seizures with the work of evil spirits. Others felt that the seizures had a cosmic or lunar cause. They believed that the cycles of the moon and planets could make someone have a seizure.
During a session to treat a patient who had seizures, doctors would force the patient to invoke the grace of the Almighty. They thought if the patient did this, then the patient would rid themselves of the evil spirits causing the seizures.
The advent of modern psychiatry occurred during the 1800s. At that time people who suffered from seizures were placed in psychiatric hospitals. They were treated like they were insane. However, none of the outmoded treatments worked.
It wasn’t until the late 1850s that the causes of seizures were understood. We know today that these causes involve the brain. Misfired signals from the brain cause a jerking reflex in the body. These usually occur when someone is very tired.
Once the causes of seizures were known, definitive treatments were developed. Today, treatments range from taking pills to having surgery. Treatment is personalized according to the type of seizure the patient has.
Even today, some people are unsure about seizures. Their most common mistake is thinking that a person having a seizure will swallow their tongue. They often shove some utensil in the person’s mouth. However, this doesn’t help. The utensil often blocks the airway and prevents the person from inhaling. Yet most of the public no longer fear people who have seizures. Instead, they can now help and comfort a person if they have a seizure.
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